Chairman Mendelson Shocks with Request for Emergency Legislation for McMillan

Save McMillan Action Coalition (SMAC)
For Release:    April 7, 2016
Contact: Chris Otten, 1-202-810-2768,


Chairman Mendelson Shocks with Request for Emergency Legislation for McMillan — Opponents React Swiftly and Strongly


This past Monday, April 4th, DC Council Chairman, Phil Mendelson introduced emergency legislation, without a clear reason [UPDATE: Mendelson explains action on Kojo Show], that would waive the requirement for competitive bidding – as mandated in the Procurement Practices Reform Act of 2010 – specifically for the Vision McMillan Partners’ (VMP) proposed mixed-use development project at the McMillan Sand Filtration Site that is located in Ward 5 and at the southwest corner of the intersection of Michigan Avenue and North Capitol St NW.

The reactions from opponents of the proposed development were swift and strong. More than one hundred DC residents sent in letters of protest in less than 24 hours to the Chairman and city council members to make known their disgust.

“As a DC resident and mother of three young kids that lives just three blocks south of McMillan Park who will be directly impacted by whatever happens up there, and has worked hard with the Friends of McMillan Park [FOMP] and SMAC to help the council understand why the VMP project is so very unwanted by neighbors and admirers of the historic site with its fascinating underground caverns, I am furious with Mendelson,” says Erin Fairbanks, of Bloomingdale.

“Apparently, an unbiased survey of the surrounding communities completed in 2012 by neighbors to understand the desires of fellow neighbors that concluded that the majority wanted more than 75% of the site serving as park and the caverns preserved, is inconsequential to the council. It is also meaningless that opponents have gathered in excess of 8,000 signatures asking the City to stop the VMP project and to rethink what is to go there. I, and thousands of others have, essentially, been told that our voices are being ignored. He has deceived us and we have been disenfranchised by him in favor of the constituents he and our council members would prefer to represent – the developers.”

The highly unusual measure, which the Chairman won approval by the Council on Tuesday, removes control and transparency of the McMillan project from the DC government and gives it to the McMillan private development team — cementing the fact that District taxpayers will pay most, if-not-all up front development costs in this deal.

Further, the legislative action completely ignores the concerns outlined by DC Auditor Kathy Patterson in her 2015 review of the project and her recommendation that the city have the project competitively re-bid.  On Monday, Patterson re-affirmed her position on the McMillan deal before the vote and warned that it is, “… a serious matter to spend taxpayer dollars without competition… .”

DC Ward 5 resident Carole Lewis Anderson wrote to the Chairman in reaction to his bill, “You have ridiculed our efforts to preserve the historic site for redevelopment by and for the people. You have suggested that the progress of VMP through the District Government system of hoops and approvals is our fault for not having caused others — perhaps poorer residents who have to work and have no excess funds to contribute to our totally volunteer efforts — to ply the halls in huge numbers. You have told us that facts and data which we have spent our own dollars and hours to identify were false. You have invited us to work with your staff as we uncovered information, in effect doing your work for you, even as you undertook tools of legislative “flexibility” to stop our progress.”

Opponents to the Chairman’s bill attended Wednesday’s budget hearing for the Deputy Mayor’s Office for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) and reacted with pointed testimony.

Debby Hanrahan, a DC resident in Ward 2 for fifty years, told the Chairman that DMPED is engaging in reckless behavior, and called Mendelson’s emergency legislation a “little charade…that would retroactively legalize DMPED’s illegal action of failing to follow the city’s competitive bidding process on the McMillan development — a failing that was the focus of the city auditor’s report last summer.” She continued in pointing out that he “made the amazing statement that it was the intention all along NOT to have competitive bidding on this project. I say amazing, because this is the first time you or DMPED or any advocate for this project has ever claimed this publicly. Your argument has always been that we opponents of the VMP project were wrong in our interpretation of what had occurred in the bidding process. Yet, as the city auditor’s report showed — we were right.”

The Save McMillan Action Coalition encourages DC residents who are outraged by Chairman Mendelson and this council’s legislation on McMillan to send in letters, call, and get involved with SMAC to prepare a protest. Contact SMAC at:


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